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Old 03-11-2008, 03:36 PM   #1
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Opening for attic stairs


I'd like to add attic stairs to the opening in my garage attic. Currently I prop my 10 foot ladder underneath to get in, but it's a pain (and probably not very safe). Problem is the opening appears way too small. I measured it and it's 20 1/2" x 28", 10 1/2 feet from floor to ceiling. All the attic stair packages they sell at HD or Lowe's require an opening of 22 1/2" x 54", much larger than what is currently there. The guy at HD seemed baffled at why the opening was that small, or what to do. The house is fairly new...is a small opening like that normal? What is the solution? Cut out and frame in a bigger opening?

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Old 03-11-2008, 04:17 PM   #2
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Opening for attic stairs


"What is the solution? Cut out and frame in a bigger opening?"

Yes, that's exactly what you do. If the floor is rated for storage and you intend to put plywood down, bring up the full sheets after the new rough opening is done and before the staircase is installed. Otherwise you won't fit up full sheets.
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:46 PM   #3
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Opening for attic stairs


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I'd like to add attic stairs to the opening in my garage attic. Currently I prop my 10 foot ladder underneath to get in, but it's a pain (and probably not very safe). Problem is the opening appears way too small. I measured it and it's 20 1/2" x 28", 10 1/2 feet from floor to ceiling. All the attic stair packages they sell at HD or Lowe's require an opening of 22 1/2" x 54", much larger than what is currently there. The guy at HD seemed baffled at why the opening was that small, or what to do. The house is fairly new...is a small opening like that normal? What is the solution? Cut out and frame in a bigger opening?
get a saws all cut the rafters on the with add sisters reframe to 22.5 x 54 be good to go...by the way ifu have sheetrock on the cealing.trim the stairs on the floor then hold the stairs up tight in the opining nail the trim to the joits then open. cut the steps to lengh at 27 degre angle then walk up and screw the stairs in

Last edited by osc111; 03-11-2008 at 06:49 PM. Reason: wrong size
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:16 PM   #4
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Opening for attic stairs


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get a saws all cut the rafters on the with add sisters reframe to 22.5 x 54 be good to go...by the way ifu have sheetrock on the cealing.trim the stairs on the floor then hold the stairs up tight in the opining nail the trim to the joits then open. cut the steps to lengh at 27 degre angle then walk up and screw the stairs in
Dude, you've got to work on your grammer....
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:41 PM   #5
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Dude, you've got to work on your grammer....
ok will do im new to this
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Old 03-11-2008, 08:02 PM   #6
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Opening for attic stairs


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Dude, you've got to work on your grammer....
Dude, you've got to work on your spelling.... (it's grammAr)
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Old 03-11-2008, 09:07 PM   #7
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Dude, you've got to work on your spelling.... (it's grammAr)
Thanks.

We all have to work on it.....some more than others.

My Confessions:

1. I do misspell some words.

2. I am very guilty of skipping over details in longer threads.
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:14 AM   #8
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Opening for attic stairs


Thanks, I figured that was the answer. Although I know very little about framing/carpentry so i'll probably look into having a carpenter buddy of mine do this.

Couple general questions:

1) What's the scoop with the small opening? Is that minimum to meet code or something? All the homes in my development seem to have the same tiny opening, but i've seen homes in other developments with large openings that can fit stairs. Why would a builder choose to put a worthless tiny one in instead of something a little more useable? I can't imagine there is much of a cost difference.

2) How do you know if the floor is rated for storage up there? The garage is finished & insulated. I put down sheets of plywood across the joists up there years ago (half sheets since I obviously couldn't fit full sheets through the opening) and have all kinds of boxes and bins stored up there. None of it is all that heavy. Nothing heavier than I couldn't carry up a 10 foot ladder by myself.
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Old 03-12-2008, 08:36 AM   #9
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1) What's the scoop with the small opening? Is that minimum to meet code or something? All the homes in my development seem to have the same tiny opening, but i've seen homes in other developments with large openings that can fit stairs. Why would a builder choose to put a worthless tiny one in instead of something a little more useable? I can't imagine there is much of a cost difference.
I do not fully know, what was going on in the builder's head, or the head of the worker that framed-in the opening.
Current IRC code requires a minimum opening of not less than 22" by 30".

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2) How do you know if the floor is rated for storage up there? The garage is finished & insulated. I put down sheets of plywood across the joists up there years ago (half sheets since I obviously couldn't fit full sheets through the opening) and have all kinds of boxes and bins stored up there. None of it is all that heavy. Nothing heavier than I couldn't carry up a 10 foot ladder by myself.
What are the dimensions of the joists?
If they are 2x6 or greater, then they are adequate for standard storage purposes.

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 03-12-2008 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 03-12-2008, 10:42 AM   #10
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Yes, they are 2x6. Thanks Atlantic.
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Old 03-13-2008, 08:16 PM   #11
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Opening for attic stairs


check to see if you have roof trusses before you start cutting any joists!!!
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:13 AM   #12
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Opening for attic stairs


Yes, there are roof trusses up there. The "W" shaped ones.
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Old 03-14-2008, 07:36 PM   #13
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Opening for attic stairs


If the opening is framed in, then you could cut back some of the framing. If the opening size is due to the bottom truss chords being part of the opening's frame, then do not cut them.

http://www.howstuffworks.com/house9.htm

You would have to just live with the opening the way it is. You CANNOT cut trusses.
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Old 03-14-2008, 08:12 PM   #14
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Opening for attic stairs


i wouldn't recommend cutting any solid joist on a trussed roof without speaking to somebody first, this can be much more than you bargined for.

like Atlantic said, if you can make the opening size you need by just shortening a couple cut joists, that should be o.k., but i would advise you to get some qualified help or live with the opening as is before you decide to cut ANY full length joist, especially one that contacts a truss anywhere along it's span
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Old 03-14-2008, 09:20 PM   #15
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i wouldn't recommend cutting any solid joist on a trussed roof without speaking to somebody first, this can be much more than you bargined for....
They can't cut any portion of a truss .....period. It's against building code. One cut, will ruin the structural integrity of the entire truss frame.

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